So long, Sokol! Old furniture store sells to fancy developer

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like The Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

The owner of a sprawling, family-owned furniture store has closed shop after 62 years in the Columbia Waterfront District — leaving a Madison Avenue-based real estate company in charge of the half-block-sized, multi-million-dollar slab of real estate.

Michael Sokol — who ran Sokol Brothers Furniture on the Columbia Street between President and Carroll streets — sold the building last week, ditching the sofa-slinging trade to “retire and do a little world traveling.”

“It’s just time to go,” he said, noting he has watched the rapidly gentrifying area morph from nice into gritty — and then back again.

Sokol sold the property to Columbia Street Development LLC, a Manhattan-based real-estate investment company for $3.3 million on Oct. 31. The sale is one hint that the neighborhood’s slow gentrification is beginning to yield glitzier retail shops and housing.

Sokol’s father opened the store — which showcased antique rocking chairs, cozy couches and sleek wooden desks — the year that the color television was invented and not long after Brooklyn-Queens Expressway sprouted a couple blocks away.

Sokol took over the business in the mid-1970s — before the artists moved in, before the brownstoners took over, before restaurants popped up and before IKEA opened a mile away.

His business stayed strong even as trendy shops opened and closed around him, in part because his store felt like a throwback to another era with friendly faces. “It was a ma and pa institution,” said nearby resident Brian McCormick.

Officials at Columbia Street Development did not return calls, but McCormick said he hoped that the new owners fill the space with a “destination” spot to drive folks to the neighborhood, which has also recently seen a surge in creative types. “It’s comforting to see storefronts that you’re used to,” he said. “But this is part of another wave.”

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.

Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like The Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

Reader Feedback

mr rogers from columbia street says:
apparently it will now be a 7 story condo developement with NO COMMERCIAL RETAIL. NO stores, just rich people getting a great view of downtown Manhattan. awesome. that's what columbia st needs, no retail.
March 2, 2012, 12:20 pm

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Don’t miss out!

Stay in touch with the stories people are talking about in your neighborhood:

Optional: Help us tailor our newsletters to you!